Calling the Dawn (Sahar Khaani) is a collection of Farsi poems by Ala Khaki from two distinct periods in his life. The first period covers 1971 to 1978, the years leading to the Iranian Revolution of 1979, during which he was a student activist, imprisoned twice by the Shah’s secret police, SAVAK; the second time after being betrayed by a friend as the author of some of the resistance poetry that was distributed underground. The second period is from 1978 to 1992, after he had fled to United States for fear of assassination, tipped off by his father’s second cousin – a major in the Shah’s Air Force with ties to the regime’s security apparatus – that his name was on a death squad list. The exile would have been short-lived had the new regime been a democratic one rather than a theocratic dictatorship, forcing Ala to continue his struggle for freedom in Iran through his pen in perpetual exile.
The poems belonging to the first period are a reproduction of the surviving poems from his book From Here to Sunrise, all copies of which were confiscated from the publisher and destroyed in 1978. Friends who had copies of these poems made this reproduction possible since SAVAK had taken away all that he had written during the search of his apartment and his parents’ home.
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